Oil prices move lower after Friday’s rig-powered surge

Crude oil prices slip lower as broader market concerns start to overshadow the slight drop in U.S. exploration activity that was reported last week. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI

March 12 (UPI) — Crude oil prices slipped into negative territory early Monday, following big gains last week, as broader international trade concerns spill into commodities.

Oil prices shot up more than 3 percent in Friday trading after oil and gas services company Baker Hughes reported a dip in rig activity in North America. Rig counts serve as a loose gauge of future production, though the slip has been overshadowed by steady upward revisions to expectations for total U.S. crude oil production.

Broader markets were roiled by U.S. President Donald Trump‘s decision to go ahead with tariffs in imported steel and aluminum, sparking fears of a trade war.

“Last week’s action was dictated by broader markets — movement in the dollar and the potential impact of steel tariffs,” Matthew Smith, the director of commodity research at ClipperData, told UPI. “We have monthly reports from the International Energy Agency and OPEC in the coming days to influence prices, but for now, crude is having a downbeat start to the week, unwinding some of Friday’s effervescent rally.”

The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, was down 0.52 percentas of 9:23 a.m. EST to $65.15 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, was down 0.6 percent to $61.67 per barrel.

Confidence in Trump’s trade policies was dimmed by the resignation of Gary Cohn, a former top executive at Goldman Sachs who left the administration because of differences over the tariffs. Trump, through his Twitter account, said Monday the trade pressure would nevertheless continue.

“Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross will be speaking with representatives of the European Union about eliminating the large tariffs and barriers they use against the U.S.A.,” he stated. “Not fair to our farmers and manufacturers.”

On energy, the American Petroleum Institute said last week the tariffs would harm the U.S. energy sector just as it’s on pace to lead globally. Some of the steel and aluminum products necessary for energy infrastructure are niche products not typically manufactured in the United States.

U.S. oil production gains nevertheless are offsetting an effort led by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut into the surplus on five-year oil inventories through output curtailments.


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